Health managers must be trained on the impact of the menopause

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Dr Gozie Offiah

Managers and senior leaders in the HSE and in private healthcare settingsmust be trained in the topic of the menopause, including the impact the symptoms can have on working females and their teams, according to the Medical Protection Society.

“Anyone who is suffering with menopause symptoms needs to be supported by their managers, to discuss any necessary changes to working arrangements,” said the MPS.

This followed a survey it carried out of female doctors in Ireland who have experienced menopause, which revealed that only 5% felt supported by their employer/workplace andless than 1% felt supported by their line manager, while 60% felt supported by family and friends.

Over a quarter (27%) felt supported by colleagues but 8% said colleagues had been dismissive of their menopause symptoms. 

Sixty per cent did not know where to seek support for their menopause symptoms at their workplace, and almost one in five (18%) said they had considered early retirement due to menopause symptoms and the impact on their wellbeing.

Dr Gozie Offiah, MPS Council member said,“It is striking that while most doctors report feeling confident in supporting and managing patients who are impacted by menopause symptoms, so many female doctors do not feel well supported at work when they are affected by these symptoms themselves.

“Leaders and managers in the HSE and in private healthcare settingsmust be trained on the menopause and how the symptoms can impact on the wellbeing of some individuals and their teams. Those suffering with symptoms should feel comfortable to discuss workplace adjustments and seek mental wellbeing support. If there is a menopause workplace policy this should also be well communicated.

“Making improvements in this area is not only right and fair, it is also essential. If we do not destigmatise menopause, we may lose many skilled and passionate doctors during a time when the profession can ill-afford it. A supportive culture will alleviate additional stress, enable these doctors to continue to perform at their best for patients, and thrive in their careers for longer.”

PS recommendations, from its paper Supporting doctors through the menopause:

  • All healthcare organisations should introduce flexible working arrangements for individual clinicians struggling with menopause, with policies and procedures to ensure they can seek support–such as making reasonable workplace adjustments, taking breaks or taking time off when needed – without fear of adverse impacts on their career or professional reputation.
  • Managers and senior leaders in the HSE and in private healthcare settings must be trained in the topic of the menopause, including the impact the symptoms can have on working females and their teams. Anyone who is suffering with menopause symptoms needs to be supported by their managers, to discuss any necessary changes to working arrangements.
  • Occupational health teams should be involved in a proactive way in planning and supporting clinicians going through the menopause in a proactive way to avoid them leaving the profession. This should include support for mental health and wellbeing.
  • Primary care providers should consider staff with menopause expertise, when hiring new team members, as this will benefit patients, clinicians and practice staff. 
  • Healthcare professionals working in the HSE or in private practice who arestruggling with menopause symptoms themselves should seek support and professional advice on potential treatments and lifestyle measures. MPS also has a role to play – we listen to and care for members, including offering support with their wellbeing and we have made our 24/7 confidential counselling service available for those struggling with the menopause.